How Should We Respond to Those Who Twist the Scriptures?
2 Peter, Day 15
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
- 2 Peter 3:15-18, ESV
2 Peter ends with one of the most remarkable verses in the New Testament. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter refers to the letters of Paul as Scripture, on the same level with "the other Scriptures," most likely a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, but possibly also including the Gospels. It is remarkable for one living Apostle to refer to the letters of another living Apostle - his contemporary - as Scripture. It is a strong affirmation of the truth that the books of the Scripture were almost immediately recognized by the church as the Word of God.
What we really glean from this final passage of 2 Peter, though, is not just an affirmation that the letters of Paul were recognized as Scripture. We can see how Peter handles those who twist the Scripture and how we should respond to them ourselves. Sadly, people have always been eager to twist the Scriptures to their own destruction.
As I write this final devotional in 2 Peter, recent news reported fundraising appeals by Paula White in which she claims "apostolic and prophetic authority" to ask people to give $3,600 to her ministry. To support her appeal, she refers to Old Testament animal sacrifices. For her to claim to be an apostle or a prophet or to use these Old Testament texts to support her high-pressure fundraising tactics is just wrong. It is twisted and self-serving and ugly. But things like this are done all the time by professing Christians all around the world. [More about Paula White]
So, how should we respond to such people? Simply by doing two things:
1. Expose them for what they are. Peter calls them "ignorant and unstable."
2. Have nothing whatsoever to do with them. As Peter says, "take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability."
Instead of following after these kinds of people, we are called to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." We are to focus on Christ, on His word, and on His Gospel, for He and He alone is our salvation.
That's the wonderfully refreshing truth woven throughout 2 Peter. Do you remember how Peter had begun this letter? "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." (1:1-2)
Notice how Peter is relentlessly Christ-centered and how his focus is strongly on the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. That's what we all need to focus on, instead of the nonsense of Scripture-twisting false teachers. We need the grace of Jesus to grow in our knowledge of Jesus.